Co-Chair of the Friends of Ireland group in Congress, Richard Neal, can now force President Trump to hand over his tax returns.
Congressman Richard Neal, perhaps the most engaged member of Congress on Irish issues, will become one of the best-known political faces in America after the Democrats won back the House in the Midterm Elections. He is a long time Co-Chair of the Friends of Ireland group in Congress.
He is the man who can ask President Trump for his tax returns and issue a subpoena if he doesn’t get them.
Neal (69), from Springfield, Massachusetts will be the head of the House Ways and Means Committee, the second most important position after House Speaker.
The Ways and Means committee is about as big as it can get on Capitol Hill. The committee deals with taxes, health care, Medicare, Social Security, welfare, and international trade.
Such is the critical importance of the committee’s brief that members cannot serve on any other House panel unless they secure a special waiver.
Dem Rep. Richard Neal is in line to lead Ways & Means. Asked by WSJ's @RichardRubinDC if he would go for the tax returns, Neal responded: "Yes."
If he gets them, Neal will have to decide how/if to make them public, which would require a committee vote. https://t.co/k1fU6iP0RL— Josh Jamerson (@joshjame) November 7, 2018
Neal comes from a tough background. He and his two younger sisters were raised in Springfield by their mother, a housewife, and their father, a custodian at MassMutual, Insurance and Financial Services. Neal's maternal grandparents were from Northern Ireland and his paternal grandparents were also from Ireland. Neal's mother died of a heart attack when he was 13, and he was attending Springfield Technical High School when his father, an alcoholic, died.
Neal and his sisters moved in with their grandmother, and later their aunt, and were forced to rely on Social Security checks as they grew up.
The affable Neal does not seek a high profile but is considered one of the most approachable and accessible Congressmen in the House.
He is deeply committed to Irish issues and just recently returned from a trip to Northern Ireland where he visited the border area to discuss Brexit.
Secretary of State was delighted to catch-up with Congressman Richard Neal @RepRichardNeal, Democratic Leader of the Friends of Ireland Caucus who continues to play such a significant role in the continued support and engagement of the US in Northern Ireland. @UKinUSA pic.twitter.com/KcYwjS6rBE— Northern Ireland Office (@NIOgov) September 28, 2018
Neal's rise to a key position has had its twists and turns along the way.
As Ray O’Hanlon at the Irish Echo noted:
“Little airtime and ink has been devoted to Neal’s rise in what is generally considered to be the most crucial committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, Ways and Means.”
He has held a seat since his first election for the Massachusetts 2nd District in 1989.
Low key and no media hound, circumstances have just intervened on behalf of Congressman Neal which puts him in the media glare.
A few years back Congressman Sander Levin was the ranking Democratic Member of Ways and Means.
The committee chairman was Republican Congressman Kevin Brady from Texas.
Rep. Levin stood down and next in line for the Democrats was Xavier Becerra from California. But Becerra returned to California to take up the job of the attorney general in the Golden State and Neal moved up to ranking member and will now be Chairman.